The value of care: Women's work and emotional labour

29 Jan 2020 17:00 - 19:00

20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G ORN


Nursing "is essentially women's work" wrote a journalist in the Yorkshire Observer in 1919.

The article stated that nursing "is truly a labour of love, for their hours are long and their work demands the best that is in them, while the remuneration is comparatively low.”

This link between low pay, vocation and women’s work has dogged nursing for over a century. 

Join a panel of historians, nurses and social scientists to explore why nursing remains undervalued in terms of status and pay, and how we might change this for future generations of health workers.

This event will be the launch of a new report on gender, nursing and pay, the result of a collaborative research project between the RCN and Oxford Brookes University. Join us as we share the findings and discuss the issues involved from both historical and contemporary perspectives.


  • "Gender and nursing as a profession: valuing nurses and paying them their worth" Dr Anne Laure Humbert, director of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes University
  • '"The nurse is not the doctor ... and she never can be!" Doctoring vs Nursing in 19th century England' Dr Sue Hawkins, senior lecturer in history in Kingston University's Centre for the Historical Record.
  • The evening will be chaired by Dr Moyra Journeaux, HCS Higher Education Department, Harvey Besterman Education Centre, Jersey and member of the RCN Education Forum.

Doors open at 5pm and the talk starts at 5.30.

Speaker Biographies

Anne Laure Humbert, PhD, is a Reader in Gender and Diversity and Director of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes University. Anne is very experienced in gender equality research at national and EU level. She is a regular public speaker on gender equality and enjoys the opportunity to make connections between theory, practice and activism. Her recent and current projects include looking at the impact of gender and diversity in STEM research teams and gender violence regimes in Europe.

Sue Hawkins, PhD, has varied research interests. Her work on history of nursing has focused mainly on the Victorian period. She is particularly interested in nursing as seen through the lens of women’s history and has published on nursing as an emancipating occupation for late Victorian women. She currently works on a research project at the National Archives, 'In Their Own Write', a study of the pauper voice in the 19th century.


The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. There is a hearing loop in the lecture room and the event will have live subtitles. We can offer large print copies of presentations if requested at least a week before the event. Assistance dogs are welcome.

If you have any other needs, please email us at and we will assist you wherever possible.

View our Terms & Conditions for events here.

20 Cavendish Square

20 Cavendish Square is located behind John Lewis, Oxford Street.


The nearest stations are Oxford Circus and Bond Street.


There are many buses routes that stop nearby, including the 10, 25, 55, 73, 98 and 390.

Page last updated - 26/06/2020